That was a surprise!
14.11.2008 - 16.11.2008 11 °C
Berlin was our first weekender while in Norway we traveled there in mid November, just in time for the tail end of autumn. Got some cheap flights with SAS to Tegel airport, which is very close to town. Kobe had organised a hotel for us in the western part of town. It was a funky place with great beds and an excellent breakfast buffet. Sara loves those!
Anyways, we had not done our fair share of planning, but Pete & Kobe had. Natasha & Mark came too, so we where all set for some touring! Our first stop on our way into town was an old church, Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedächtnis-Kirche. Its a church bombed during WWII, and left like that as a reminder.
Pete had his new camera, and was firing like there was no tomorrow!
Petes new enhancement
Next stop was the Memorial to the murdered Jews of Europe. We walked around the concrete tombs for a while, a very sobering place!
We also went inside the museum, and studied the exhibitions.
After that, we strolled over to the Brandenburger Tor. It was funny, because its a place I have always heard about, but never seen. Amazing though how long its been around for! Then it was on to the Reichtag building. The queue was very long, so we figured we would come back later. You only get let in in limited groups, and go through a securitycheck like you do at the airport. Takes a while!
Next up was Checkpoint Charlie. We walked there and found a nice restaurant on the way. We also stumbled over the Segway tours. I'm a bit skeptical to those, haven't tried one, but it seems like the tour is more for the sake of the Segway, rather than the tour. We also stumbled upon the Ampelmannshop, much to Natashas delight. The Ampelmann is some kind of cult symbol, and apparently visible all around the old East Germany on the pedestrian crossings.
Anyways, there is a replica Checkpoint Charlie there now, Its actually Checkpoint C, with the Charlie coming from the phonetic Charlie for C. They also got some portraits of a Russian and American soldier, didn't quite get the significance of them, but they where seemingly serving border guards. Next up was the Mauer Museum. It is a kind museum of creative citizens, and what they did to cross the Berlin wall. Most made it, but some didn't. In any case they had some pretty wacky ideas some of them. From there, we headed to the Topography of terror. Its a open air exhibition of what the SS did during the WWII, with some pretty harrowing stories too
This first day was really all about the WWII and the Cold War. I think its pretty incomprehensible the atrocities performed of the governments at the time, and the scale of it. I think its easy to reflect on it now though, and condemn it since we have dealt with it through history. It was something that had a direct impact on all my grandparents, so I have always heard about it, and seen the pictures. Currently there are still conflicts going on in the world, but now the scale is smaller, and they are internal conflicts, so its easier to ignore it. We shouldn't.
Ok, Ill get back onto the trip. Then, at the end of the day, it was back to the Reichtag for the nightscape view before dinner and beer.
Sunday Kobe had organized a Fat Bike Tour. The tour took us around to different sights, some we had seen the day before. Some were new.
2-man east German guard towers. 2 in case 1 decided they bolt.
Phat chicks on Fat bikes
Halfway stop on the tour was a forest cafe in one of the parks, where we had lots of nice beer. On the way back, Petes bladder was starting to feel the pressure. Every stop along the way just became more and more agonizing for him after we left the forest.
Museum Island, the second last agonizing stop for Pete
He made it back though, but only just....
We had intended to go up in the tower, but it was expensive, and the queue was long.
At the very end here, I want to include some links regarding the fall of the Berlin wall. First, read this article about Günter Schabowski, then watch this video where he stuffs up, and this one with all the happy people!
Ok, I think that's it! Berlin was great, very interesting place! I think the history overshadows the city a bit when you come there as a tourist. I wouldn't mind going back, and seeing the more contemporary side of it one day.
Apologies for the somewhat distracted storytelling, but since its been a while now since we where there, some of the thoughts have matured a bit, and some are a bit vaguer, hence why I'm trying to get up to speed with all these stories now before its too late.